Drowsy Driving in Maryland : Study Says Sleepy Drivers as Dangerous as Drunk Drivers

Have you ever gotten behind the wheel when you actually felt too tired to drive? Even the most cautious drivers may, on occasion, power through the need to sleep and put pedal to the metal — just to get where they need to go. That’s what hot coffee, a loud radio, and a blast of cold fresh air are for, right?

Drowsy driving in Maryland is more common than we’d like to think. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe to do so. A new AAA study finds that drowsy driving may in fact be as dangerous as drunk driving, potentially leading to serious and even fatal car accidents.

CBS News reports that while federal sources estimate drowsiness as a factor in one to two percent of motor vehicle crashes — a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Safety found that number to be much higher. When researchers studied 700 crashes on tape, they found drowsy driving to be a factor in 10 percent of motor vehicle accidents.

Are you getting enough sleep to safely get behind the wheel and drive?

According to CBS News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends drivers get at least seven hours of sleep a night before getting behind the wheel. Researchers say that nighttime is the most dangerous time to drive. Warning signs of drowsy driving include drifting into other lanes, having trouble keeping your eyes open, and not remembering the last few miles driven. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.

The AAA conducted a study of more than 3,500 drivers from across the U.S., recording their driving habits with an onboard drivecam over the course of several months. This study revealed drowsy driving to be a factor in roughly 10 percent of 700 traffic accidents.

To avoid sleep-related motor vehicle crashes, the AAA recommends driving during normal waking hours, avoiding heavy foods, and not taking medications that can cause impairment. They also recommend taking frequent breaks, pulling into a rest stop for even a short cat nap — and being aware of the serious impact that sleepiness can have on driving safety. They also recommend driving with an alert partner who can take turns at the wheel.

We all find ourselves in situations where we’d rather be at home in a comfortable chair – or in our beds – rather than driving on Maryland’s highways and roadways. But it’s best to take steps to simply avoid sleepy driving. Your life and those of your passengers, pedestrians, and other motorists may depend on it. It only takes a split second for an accident to happen.

Sources:

Drowsy driving could be more common – and deadlier – than first thought
CBS News Feb. 8, 2018

Drowsy Driving: Don’t Be Asleep at the Wheel
AAA Foundation Feb. 2018